Top Taliban leader quits the Pakistan Taliban
A top Taliban commander says he is quitting the Pakistan Taliban because of a spate of suicide bombings. It's the first sign of fracture in Pakistan's Taliban and could benefit both Pakistan and the US, say experts.
(Page 2 of 2)
Kurrum has also been at the center of a violent sectarian conflict between the warring Shia Turi and Sunni Bangash tribes that has already claimed thousands of lives since 2007.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Lower Kurrum is under the control of Taliban militants who have established training centers and bases there, while Shias control Upper Kurrum bordering Afghanistan, thus blocking the Taliban’s route to Afghanistan.
The rival Shia tribal elders say the “ruthless” commander is behind the killing of their community members and considered to be very close to Hakeemullah Mehsud, the chief of the TTP, and the Haqqani network, one of the most dangerous insurgent groups fighting against US forces in Afghanistan.
In a rare type of strike in Lower Kurrum, US drones targeted a Taliban compound and a vehicle with four missiles on June 20, killing 11 militants, most of whom reportedly belonged to the Haqqani network. Sources say the targeted compound belonged to Taliban militants of the commander Fazal Saeed Haqqani.
The 'real challenge' now
“He [Fazal Saeed Haqqani] still wants to implement sharia [Islamic law] in Pakistan and Afghanistan. He still wants to continue his fight against the Americans. I believe the real challenge will be to keep him at bay from the Haqqani network,” says Muhammad Amir Rana, director at the Islamabad-based Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS).
The commander’s decision to split from the TTP came amid reports of a possible operation by Pakistan’s security forces in Kurrum, as US and Pakistani officials aim to prevent militants under the pressure of US drones from slipping into Kurrum from North Waziristan.
Pakistan has recently experienced a spate of terror attacks carried out by the TTP. These include suicide attacks and the recent siege of a Pakistani naval base in Karachi.
Sources in the Fata Disaster Management Authority say a relief camp has been set up in Kurrum to accommodate hundreds of families who may have to leave the conflict zone.
Meanwhile, Shia tribal elders say they would welcome any military operation against Taliban militants and their havens in Kurrum. “We will support the military operation with our hearts and souls,” says Sajid Toori, a prominent Shia tribal elder and a member of the parliament. “We believe that all roads to long-lasting peace in the tribal region and Afghanistan go through Kurrum; and we will fight the Taliban till the last drop of our blood.”